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delivery itself can be seriously hampered, and there may be insufficient numbers to bring the benefits of specific training to individual congregations. As indicated by one West Midlands’ focus group: There is a problem of critical mass though, as most of the churches are very small in [congregation size], so sometimes we cannot get things going. Others point out that with small numbers, it may not be financially viable to offer training. One Methodist minister reveals: It is something of a Catch-22 situation. The district often will not put money into training if we cannot guarantee a certain number of churches or minimum number of individual participants. To do this we have to spread the net so wide geographically that it puts off some of the most isolated from coming, and most beneficiaries end up being from the urban churches!


This highlights a further issue identified by both lay people and ministers in several small church situations (and brought up by all focus groups in both case study regions); there are often insufficient hands to do what is desired or even necessary. On top of this, any involvement in small congregations almost always brings responsibilities; this can discourage fringe churchgoers from getting more involved in the church as it may require them to take part in training. This is by no means exclusive to rural small churches.


The key needs identified here are two: • Far wider recognition of the difficulties faced by small and rural churches in taking up training opportunities, and adaptation of current training taking this into account.


• The privileging of small and rural church needs in some key training situations, combined (as above) with appropriately local delivery.


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